Thai Tuna Burgers with Ginger-Lemon Mayonnaise

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1 hour 30 minutes
| Servings: 4 servings


  • 2 Kirby cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • ¼ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 Thai or serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
  • 1 ½ pounds sushi-quality tuna
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup oatmeal
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts

Ginger-Lemon Mayonnaise

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion greens
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds or toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. For the Giner-Lemon Mayonnaise In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients. MAKE AHEAD The mayonnaise can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the cucumbers, onion, vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Season with pepper and let stand for 1 hour at room temperature.
  3. In a mortar or medium bowl, using the back of a spoon, mash the ginger with the garlic, chile and remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar to a paste. Stir in the fish sauce, cilantro and basil. On a clean cutting board, thinly slice the tuna. Stack the slices and cut into thin matchsticks. Cut the matchsticks into rough cubes, then chop until the pieces are roughly 1/8 inch. Add the tuna to the ginger paste and stir until evenly combined with egg whites and oatmeal.
  4. Using lightly moistened hands, shape the tuna mixture into 4 patties about 1 inch thick. Set them on a large plate lined with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the tuna burgers for 20 minutes.
  5. Light a grill. In a small bowl, combine the vegetable oil with the sesame oil. Lightly brush the burgers and the cut sides of the buns with oil. When the fire is medium hot, brush the grate with oil. Grill the burgers for 6 minutes, turning once, for medium rare. Move the burgers away from the heat and grill the cut sides of the buns until toasted, 1 minute.
  6. Drain the cucumber salad. Spread the Ginger-Lemon Mayonnaise on the cut sides of the buns and set the tuna burgers on the bottoms. Top with the cucumber salad and peanuts. Cover the burgers with the buns and serve.

MAKE AHEAD The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated for up to 3 hours.


  1. These offbeat tuna burgers were loosely inspired by a Thai fried white fish patty called tod man pla. The Thai cucumber salad stands in for pickles. Use sushi-quality tuna so you can serve the burgers medium rare.
  2. Beer Recommendation: An aromatic golden lager will complement the rich tuna here. Look for one with hoppy or lemony flavors, such as Asahi Super Premium from Japan or Singha Lager from Thailand. — Steven Raichien